Death end re;Quest (PlayStation 4) Review

By Albert Lichi 02.04.2019

Review for Death end re;Quest on PlayStation 4

Compile Heart, while not known for their well-made or polished products, have made a long lasting career with games that have a meta, or referential quality to their narratives. Death end re;Quest is their latest and most curious opus yet, which can be best described as a genre-bending science fiction RPG that rarely sits still... that is when it isn't tripping over its limitations. Just what does this peculiar oddity bring to the genre's table?

The premise in this RPG/visual novel hybrid is like in Sword Art Online, by way of Corpse Party. Death end re;Quest's story is told between two realities: the real world which is expressed in the form of a visual novel format, and a VR MMORPG 'World's Odyssey,' which plays out like a janky Idea Factory RPG. The fictitious MMORPG is not that dissimilar from the one seen in the likes of .hack, but this time it was an experimental project that was under development and abandoned by its creators, one of which gets stuck in the system with amnesia.

Shina Minoniya not only has to contend with her identity collapsing in on itself, but also the very fabric of the reality she is trapped in as well. Fortunately she is not alone, as she will be aided by her co-developer, Arata Mizunashi, who hacks and reprograms various aspects of World's Odyssey to help unravel its mysteries. Death end re;Quest is a very odd RPG. Tonally, it is all over the place - going from bleak and depressing to fanservice-y and irreverent at break-neck speed. This is to the game's strength, since it is completely committed to its characters and drama that it all ends up working for it, giving it a strange yet unique air about it. This is all bookended with very descriptive scenes of violence expressed in text when the budget could not permit complex animations.

These obvious drawbacks distractingly use the visual novel format as a crutch, since these very dramatic scenes are crucial to establishing plot details, yet in combat no expense is spared for over the top (albeit cheap) animations. Even walking around as Shina is really off, since she moves in a very awkward eight-directional movement; as if Death end re;Quest was designed to be played with the keyboard arrow keys or a D-pad. Running is bizarrely mapped to toggling the right analogue stick, so it is impossible to have smooth or fluid movement. This was something game developers figured out on the Nintendo 64's archaic controller, and now in 2019 Compile Heart somehow missed the memo.

Screenshot for Death end re;Quest on PlayStation 4

Not everything in Death end re;Quest is rough and tumble. The turn-based combat system is quite robust and very inventive. Battles play out on a field where Shina and her party can freely move about, and the idea is to attack enemies and line them up to send them flying into each other, and hopefully, into a few dangerous floor tiles. In some ways, it kind of feels like playing a game of billiards, but if the cue sticks were cute anime babes, with ultra miniskirts, and weird alien appendages. It is not the most challenging, since Mizunashi finds ways to hack the system, and Shina is more or less a walking game bug incarnate that can defy game logic due to her myriad of abilities.

Shockingly, the most challenging parts are the extensive visual novel sequences since players will have to make tons of choices that will shape the earned ending. Most of the time, everyone is going to earn a very tragic or bad ending, which is par the course for something penned by the guy who wrote Corpse Party. The path to the one good ending is so utterly cryptic, that a walkthrough becomes necessary... yet this is actually admirable. It is refreshing for a release that makes players have to earn their happy ending.

As mentioned earlier, Death end re;Quest is very cheap looking at times. Visually, this resembles a PlayStation Vita game. Expect mostly barren and long empty rooms as excuses for dungeons that are chopped up, and divided by loading screens. This also does not run, or play smoothly, which is baffling because, one look at this game, and it looks like it wouldn't tax a PlayStation 2. Cut-scenes in the RPG portions typically play out with looping animations and clipping, giving the impression that the animations themselves were generic stock assets bought from a store. The visual novel portions of Death end re;Quest fare much better. They have well drawn art, the English voice acting is consistently delivered with gusto, and the narrative has a driving question that keeps things compelling.

Screenshot for Death end re;Quest on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Death end re;Quest is a flawed game but it wears its flaws on its sleeve. The technical shortcomings are annoying and unfortunate, and the production values are very low, yet the story and characters are enough to draw people into the world. The combat won't win any awards, but it had a stroke of creativity that ties into the narrative beautifully. It is pretty rough around the edges, but it is very clear that the developers really were passionate about this tale, and were dead set on telling it in spite of their limitations. Those looking for a quality RPG are not going to be satisfied, as Death end re;Quest is something that is more geared towards visual novel enthusiasts that happens to effectively masquerade as an RPG from time to time.

Developer

Compile Heart

Publisher

Idea Factory

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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